Watch as the return of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard's Victorian Christmas Festival brings snow selfies and circus shows

COBBLED avenues and jetties at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard have been transformed for a weekend of Yuletide festivities.

Victorian Christmas Festival returning for another year in Portsmouth. Francis Baldock, two, with Izzy Knight and Francesca McCohon. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Victorian Christmas Festival returning for another year in Portsmouth. Francis Baldock, two, with Izzy Knight and Francesca McCohon. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The heritage site’s annual Victorian Christmas Festival began today, kick-starting three days of celebrations to mark its 20th anniversary.

As visitors filtered on to the site they were met by a brass band playing outside HMS Warrior – with the ship lined with a row of Christmas trees.

Such wintry delights would continue all the way through the dockyard to HMS Victory, thanks to swathes of traders lining the path with their stalls.

Victorian Christmas Festival returning for another year in Portsmouth. Pictured: Morgan Bassett, three, playing in fake snow. Picture: Habibur Rahman

These boasted handcrafted soaps, bespoke Christmas decorations, unique festive tipples and a catalogue of world foods.

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The allure of seeing the dockyard with a festive hue was irresistible for Jenny Hoey, who lives on the Isle of Wight but had never visited.

She journeyed across the Solent with pal Michelle Davidson-Bell.

Victorian Christmas Festival returning for another year in Portsmouth. Pictured: Street performers at Historic Dockyard. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘We came along having no idea what this was going to be like and it’s just so lovely,' said Jenny.

‘I’ve lived on the island for seven years but I’ve never even been to the dockyard before, despite travelling through Portsmouth a few times.

‘Before now I hadn’t felt particularly Christmassy, but this makes you feel like now is the perfect time to get ready.’

Revellers watched a handful of performances at stages throughout the dockyard, all the while quirky characters and performers roamed on foot.

A real winner for families was the Jamboree Stage, nestled between Semaphore Tower and the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

Its performance area was compact, but pipes behind it billowing fake snow were a hit with youngsters, who enjoyed making snow angels.

For adults it proved the perfect spot for a selfie.

Glen Alexander went along with pal Annie Williams. The pair both hail from Portsmouth.

‘Seeing the dockyard with this Christmas glow is absolutely amazing and it’s a really good feeling knowing this is on our doorstep,' said Glen, 46.

‘There's not enough of these community-type events happening so seeing everybody here is quite wonderful.'

Joe Ross, a co-director of Fratton-based Staggeringly Good, said returning to display the brewery's wares for a fifth year was a no-brainer.

‘It’s always a great buzz and it's a great introduction into the festivities,' he said.

‘It's a chance to shout about what we do to people who don’t know about us or have come from further afield.

‘Not only that, it’s really nice to see the space take on a different personality for Christmas.’

Tickets for the Victorian Christmas Festival are still available for Saturday and Sunday.

To book, go to historicdockyard.co.uk or buy tickets at the dockyard.